Friday, February 19, 2010

I Run So I Can Eat

I once saw a fit, athletic, healthy, middle-aged man wearing a shirt proclaiming these words: I Run So I Can Eat. I wanted to run to him, give him a high-five, a hug, a shoulder rub and tell him "Dude, I totally feel your pain". And it's kinda nice to know that you, Mr. Athletic Man, suffer from food issues too!

You can get your (The t-shirt, not the issues.)

Warning!! I would not wear this shirt if you do not run or workout, if you've never owned a pair of tennis shoes, or genuinely have no idea what I'm talking about. Cuz it would be wrong. And weird. And people would make fun of you. So really, I'm here for you. You can thank me later.

I have done some sort of physical fitness since 1st grade. (I'm not bragging just providing some captivating back story.) I started off in gymnastics. Then, after I was discovered by a classmate's father during a lunch with his daughter, I started playing softball. Seems in first grade I was a head taller than the other girls in my class. My classmate's father had recently lost his third baseman to a broken arm and was out scouting for her replacement. (Not really. At least I don't think so. Rec sports can be hard core though, so who knows.) So one fateful lunch in first grade turned into a phone call to my mom then into a 14 year relationship with softball. We were together a long time, through good times and bad. But I was also seeing another sport during that time. I played basketball for eight years. A shorter love affair.

During my high school softball days I used to go to the week of tryouts with a huge knot in my stomach. It had nothing to do with my softball skills or abilities that would soon be tested. It had everything to do with that 1 mile jog out to "the tree" and back. That was it, a mile. A silly mile. But I dreaded it like a child and an impending shot. I HATED that run. We seriously considered digging up that tree one year, thinking that we wouldn't have to run if there was no tree!

I thought a silly mile was bad, but I didn't even KNOW running until I got to college. College athletics are serious when it comes to conditioning. I mean, what? Just because you're paying for my tuition you think I need to be in top physical condition? Geesh, picky much? In the off-season it was common to have an awesome (highly sarcastic) day of conditioning consisting of an hour swim, a 3 mile run, and weights. (Yeah, all in a row. We were tough. I cried a lot.) I figured out something that I pretty much thought I already knew...I HATE to run. Still.

One thing I also remember is never really worrying about what I ate. My pregame meal in high school was a personal pepperoni pizza with ranch (of course) and probably as much Dr. Pepper as my tummy could hold. College wasn't much better with either a pre or post game meal out and constant snacks. I wish I would've worn a heart rate monitor back then to see the exuberant amount of calories I used to burn. I was a lean, mean, calorie consuming and burning machine. Those days as a college athlete were hard. They were mentally and physically challenging like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

That is, before last week.

I had heard of Crossfit before. There was a group of young land dudes at Samson who were going super early before work to do Crossfit in Jenks throughout the week. These guys were all former athletes and current triathletes and distance runners. They weren't couch potatoes. I knew Crossfit was hardcore when I heard that the very first day one of the guys threw up. Gulp. Wow, sounds like fun. Where do I sign up? Not.

Well, after leaving college, starting a career and a family it was time to find my way back to the gym. Man, hormones are a beast! Now food was finding a way to stick to me. I was having to think about what I was putting into my mouth. I was still eating athlete/pregnant quantities but I wasn't doing anything to burn it off! So the extra calories clung to my body like a warm tongue to a frozen light pole. So I got a gym membership.

Six months ago I started taking classes at my local gym. Classes are good for Macey. Classes mean Macey can't quit when it hurts. (It's SUPPOSED to hurt!) Classes mean people know Macey's coming and expect Macey to be there. Classes are filled with women (and the occasional brave man) who are all in the same boat. In fact, one instructor has a saying that I particularly like, "Keep going, don't stop, we're all hurting together." And Macey's pain likes the company.

These classes were hard. It had been a while since I'd really sweated like that. I wore my heart rate monitor and after a cardio class followed by a pump class (weights) I would typically burn 1,200+ calories and man, did I feel good. It was a huge challenge, I was committed to it, and I loved it. Then I was introduced to Crossfit. Visions of puking athletes came to my mind as I heard "if you think your classes are hard, you should try the intensity of Crossfit". Yeah (eye roll), so I've heard.

But not being one to back down from a challenge and feeling a bit more fit after 6 months of classes, Sean and I signed up to try a few Crossfit sessions. Our sessions have consisted of total training times varying from 7-20 minutes. Short, huh? To me, at first, I thought there's no way you can get a good workout in in that short of time. I need hours, man. And pools of sweat pouring off of me.

First session: 21 thrusters, 21 pullups, 15 thrusters, 15 pullups, 9 thrusters, 9 pullups. Easy, right? Riiiiiiiighht. No, it wasn't! Since I can't do the recommended and helpful "kip" pullup, I got to do jumping pullups. Cheating, sorta. If cheating means feeling like you're gonna die. And afterwards, (Oh. Em. Gee.) I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest or just give up and stop. My mouth was filled with cotton balls. Who puh teez cogen baaz in my mof? My muscles were screaming. 5-7 minutes of pain.

Our next session: A killer circuit of the following back to back: 1 minute of pushpress, 1 minute of box jumps, 1 minute of rows, 1 minute of sumo dead lift high pulls, 1 minute of wall balls, followed by a one minute rest. 5 total minutes of going as hard and as fast as you can. 1 minute of rest, then repeat...3 times. That workout is affectionately called "Fight Gone Bad". It was bad. It was very bad. Macey wanted to puke. Macey didn't. Sean did. Haha...just kidding. We both (barely) survived.

For more information on Crossfit, go here (at your own risk)!

Although I am still a firm believer that to lose weight and get a sculpted body (if that's what you're into) then it takes about 70% of an almost-perfect diet and 30% of a great sweat-inducing workout. It's all about the food, baby. Putting the bad stuff in will only work against you. Think about dumping sand into your gas tank. Gas+sand=...well...I'm really not sure, but it can't be good. Your body needs the right "gas" for it to function. Clean gas. (Ok, I gotta say it cuz you're probably already thinking it...Clean gas IN=Clean gas OUT. There. I said it for you. Have your little chuckle.) You gotta limit the "sand" you dump into the tank. However...and I share this like it's the big spoiler to the end of can have a little more "sand" in your tank without the disastrous side effects if you are working your butt off, literally. You gotta have some give and take. I'm all about equal opportunity.

So the man...with the shirt...who I wanted to kind of a genius in my world. Thus why I wanted to hug him. If you want to eat that gotta work for it, baby! Work for it, or it's gonna giggly implant itself right there on your thighs. I know, it's an ugly reality. I'm here to proclaim the truth.

I run (or lift, or spin, or walk, or step, or Zumba, or sweat) so I can eat!

Until next time!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Focus, Macey. Focus!

During my softball games, after an error in the field, a strikeout, or prior to an at bat that desperately needed to produce a hit, I could set my watch to the sure fact that my dad would yell from his stadium seat, "Focus, Macey. Focus!". If his shouts of fatherly help were after an error or strikeout, you could bet I would not look up into the stands to make eye contact. I knew it was coming. He knew I could hear him. I knew I had messed up and my dad's idea of proper course correction was to remind me to focus.

After all, wasn't focus the only obvious answer to my softball problems? Who doesn't focus when stepping up to the plate to face a 68+ mph fastball whizzing by just inches from her body? You HAVE to focus in order to get your brain to read "ball" or "strike" (read: swing or don't swing) just milliseconds after the ball has left the pitcher's hand. You also HAVE to focus to have your brain to tell your foot to step, your hips to fire and your hands to throw the bat toward the speeding ball while FOCUSING on the spin of the ball, determining its speed and rotation, thus calculating its movement in order to move your bat at just the right time, speed, and angle to meet that speeding ball at just the right spot so that it doesn't foul off, pop up or hit right at a fielder, but to smack it, hard, in a gap. Or if we're lucky, straight over the fence. Now. Who's not focusing?!

However, sometimes, instead of his fatherly course correction yell, dad's shouts were for encouragement. Before a big at bat, I would look into the stands. All he had to do was raise his hands to his eye as if focusing a large lens...and I knew what he meant. Focus, Macey. Focus. Focus on what you're doing. Because focusing leads to a clearer, truer picture.

I know many times stepping up to the plate to face an Olympic pitcher (yes, literally), that I told myself over and over, "I can hit this girl. I can do it. I know I can." I couldn't have focused any harder on focusing. I was in the moment. I was ready. I was relaxed and confident (or at least I faked it to scare the pitcher). There was nothing she could throw past me. I fought. I focused. But I didn't always get the hit. Was it because I didn't focus? Because I didn't focus hard enough? Or was I focused on all the wrong things?

I do this in my adult life now. In a past post I talked about my New Year's resolution was to "finished everything that I...". I've finally determined that my problem with finishing the task at hand is, in fact, my lack of focus. Every now and then when I stop one task to work on another one that's caught my attention the little cartoon cloud pops up with my dad's face in it telling me, "Focus, Macey. Focus!". And more often than not, I'm literally having to re-train myself on how to stay focused. I have to realize that the crumbs will still be on the table after I finish getting vitamins for the kids. I think my fear is that I'll forget. I'll forget the crumbs are there and when finally we sit down to eat dinner, there they'll be. Staring at me. Taunting me. Telling me that they won because I lost focus last night and never cleared them away.

Not only does this issue with focus run through my daily life (my daily parade, thank you very little!), but it runs throughout my time with my husband, my children, and my heavenly Father. Each night something takes my attention away from all of the well laid out plans I had intended to do. Homework time with Gavin, special time with Zoey, and snuggle time with Sean all somehow seem to get over looked for fixing dinner, cleaning up, laundry, bath time, a new show that's got my attention, researching labeling guidelines...the list goes on and on. Something always takes away my focus.

Crumbs on the table are the least of my concerns. It's when I hear the familiar yell, coming this time from my heavenly father, that really gets my attention. Although it's not coming from a parent in the stadium, it comes as a gentle tug on my heart, a whisper inside of my head, "Focus, Macey. Focus!". Stop focusing on the crumbs. Stop focusing on who's cooking what for the Super Bowl. Stop focusing on your lip gloss. Focus, instead, on me.

In the world we live focusing on God is not an easy thing. It doesn't just happen. Good focus takes effort and discipline. In much the same way as a successful hit at the plate requires extreme practice and discipline, so does our focus on God. Every day we have to decide the things we will do. Every second we have to decide the thoughts we will think. If you are feeling unfulfilled, depressed, or empty, I would fester to guess that you are not living the life God intended you to live. Return your focus to God. Don't let anyone steal your joy...not the devil, not the government, not the mean lady at the gym, not long lines, unavoidable delays, or yet ANOTHER day of snow!

Focusing on God gives us a clearer, truer picture of God and his purpose and intent for our lives. As we re-align our focus back to God (or to God for the first time), I KNOW we will receive new joy, more power, and greater peace by following his will. Peace! What an awesome reward!!

I follow an amazing blog, God Speaks Today. Each time I receive an email update that she's got a new post, I usually drop everything to read it. She inspires me. But most of all she makes me realize that I'm normal! I'm attaching her lasted post about her problems with focus.

Today I will focus on the task at hand. Nothing will steal my focus or my joy. And when I properly focus I will be rewarded by seeing a clearer, truer picture. I will be prepared to face the curve balls that each day throws my way and I will smack that ball...straight out of the park. I will live the fulfilled life that God has intended for me. And I will have peace. I hope you find it too. If you have any trouble, just call my dad...he can remind you too, to focus.

Until next time!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Giada's Noodles

You know when you make something and it's so good you have to write it down immediately cuz you "gotta remember" this one? Well, I found one of those meals. I think I stole part of it from Giada Delaurentis from the Food Network, but really there was quite a bit of time between her show and when I made this dish that I'm sure it's not food infringement...right? Right. We'll go with that. Sean still goes into an immediate wide eyed, wide mouth drool when I mention Giada or if he catches a glimpse of her on tv. He doesn't even know she's a cook. I remember one time I said, "Oh Sean, look at these noodles Giada's making." His response? "I don't see any noodles...". (Gasp.) Men!
(I picked the more...uh hem...appropriate picture of her.)

Before I tell you about the dish that I made I need to mention a few things.

  • I didn't measure anything. It's all by sight. So don't go into measurement freakout...just make it look good. If it looks good to your eye, it will taste good to your tummy!

  • I bought a bag of frozen shrimp. I have no idea the size of the bag...and I probably thawed half of it.

  • I bought my sundried tomatoes from the new, cool, little condiment bar at Reasors. They have little bowls. I have no idea how many I had. (See a theme yet? No measuring!)

  • When I say you need quite a bit of oil, believe me, you do. You should cook your garlic and shrimp in the oil and then pour it all over your pasta and crumbs...they will soak it all up, so you need quite a bit. If you'd rather, you can start light and add more later, but the more flavorful way is to let the shrimp and garlic cook in the oil and use that oil for your pasta sauce.

Ok, that's's what I did:

1.) I took TOASTED ALMONDS and about a handful or two from a box of TOASTED GARLIC TRISCUITS and chopped them up in the food processor until they were like thick dust.

(I bought some slivered almonds and toasted them in a skillet until I could smell them. Side note: I am very, VERY good at burning these babies. A smoke filled kitchen, the vent blowing on high and a loud, "DANG IT!"are usually soon to follow if I'm in charge of toasting something!)

2.) I thawed 1/2 a bag of FROZEN COLOSSAL SHRIMP, then seasoned the shrimp with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and old bay.

(I always buy the shrimp that have been deveined. It's up to you if you want to leave the shells on, tails on, or rip em all up. And feel free to buy fresh shrimp.)

3.) I boiled a BAG OF FROZEN 5 CHEESE RAVIOLI according to package directions.

(It doesn't take long.)

4.) I heated a good bit of OIL in a skillet (I've been mixing vegetable and olive together lately). I added in whole GARLIC CLOVES, then the seasoned shrimp. Let the shrimp and garlic cook on both sides.

5.) While the shrimp and garlic cooked away to delish goodness I drained the pasta, reserving a bit of the pasta water. I added the processed triscuits and almond mish mash and some freshly grated parmesan cheese to the pasta.

6.) Then I added one JAR OF ARTICHOKES (in water) to the food processor. Process. Add to the pasta.

7.) Next add some SUNDRIED TOMATOES to the food processor. Process. Add to the pasta.

8.) Add garlic, shrimp, and oil to the pasta.

9.) Top this delicious mixture with more freshly grated parm and behold the wonders that are shrimp, pasta, and lots of other good stuff!

It's delicious, even if it's partially stolen. No, they're not Giada's noodles. But since Sean doesn't know the difference, it's all good.

Eat and enjoy!

Until next time!